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Timing is one of the most important puzzle pieces to a successful wedding.

If you are getting married outdoors, or at a private home, figure out your timing early on.

Here are a few common timing questions that might come up when planning your estate wedding.

1. What time should the wedding begin?

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Plan your wedding ceremony in the late afternoon or early evening or when the sun isn’t at it’s peak.

While everybody wants to get married on a nice sunny day, the sun isn’t always on your side.  It can effect your photographs, cause your guests to squint, cause your cake to melt or your flowers to wilt. An evening wedding can make things all the more pleasant.

2. How long should I wait for guests to arrive to begin the ceremony?

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If you wrote on your invitation that the ceremony starts at 4pm, I recommend starting right on time or 15 minutes late at the most.  Most guests will arrive promptly or even early.  Don't make them sit out in the hot sun any longer than they have to.

3. What can I do to keep my photos after the ceremony under an hour?

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Your cocktail hour is designed to entertain your guests while you take your pictures, so you'll want to keep things quick, but not sacrifice on quality.  You'll find that there will be a lot of onlookers and little privacy when you are taking your wedding pictures because of all the guests present.  This can certainly slow you down.

Before the big day, plan out what pictures you want taken and inform your family and friends involved that they will be needed.  Immediately following the ceremony have your planner gather everyone needed, and take those pictures first.  Afterward, you should have a good chunk of time left to take your "couple" pictures.

Save even more time by taking your "first look" pictures before the ceremony when you aren't feeling rushed.

4. How do I keep everything rolling throughout the reception?

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Your planner should have a timeline outlining everything from the toasts, the first dance, bouquet toss, to your final exit.  Don't cram everything right in the beginning of the reception, you'll want to spread it out.  You may not have time for everything that you'd hoped, so make it clear as to what traditions are most important to you.

If a guest needs to leave early, they may try to wait until after the cake has been cut, or after the garter toss.  If all goes according to schedule, they would be able to ask the planner what time everything will be taking place.

5.  What time does my party have to end?

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If you're getting married outdoors, chances are high that your party will have to end at 10pm.  Another reason to stick to the schedule as much as possible, is so that you can get the most time out of your wedding reception.

For example: If your ceremony was supposed to start at 4:30pm and it didn't start until 5:30pm, that means that your cocktail hour was over around 6:30pm.  That only leaves 3 and a half hours left to eat dinner, dance, cut your cake, etc.

Stick to the schedule and you'll be able to enjoy the reception more!

Your Turn...

What is your experience or advice regarding wedding timing?